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by Abigail Van Buren

Sponge of a Daughter Is Sucking Up Dad's Money

DEAR ABBY: Please print this letter to my stepdaughter. I would say it to her face, but my husband would pitch a fit if I did.

DEAR STEPDAUGHTER: Please grow up and take responsibility for yourself. You are in your mid-30s, but you expect us to provide you with a car, repair it, and pay your insurance. This is a major burden and a threat to our finances because if you have an accident, we are the ones who will get sued.

You come to our house to do the laundry for your family, and expect us to provide detergent, dryer sheets, water and electricity. You put more wear and tear on our washer and dryer than we do.

You expect "Daddy" to come through when you are low on money, and you always have him pay your rent deposits when you move.

Your father still owes money from before I met him, and we have to get a loan every year just to get by. Don't you realize that he has expenses other than yours? Have you ever considered that financial stress may have contributed to the heart attack he had a few years ago?

It's great for you to stay home with the kids while your husband works (I wish I could), but not if you are a burden on someone else. If your husband doesn't make enough for you to live on, perhaps you should work while your children are in school.

You have put a tremendous strain on our marriage, and it appears that you don't care. I wonder if you even care about your father's health. Well, I care about his health and our marriage, and I know full well that we deserve a life too, so please take responsibility for your own finances and let us enjoy some well-deserved happiness in our life. You are welcome to visit us, but please don't continue being a self-centered sponge. -- STEPMOM IN GEORGIA

DEAR STEPMOM: I doubt your stepdaughter will recognize herself in your letter, and even if she does, she is not likely to cut herself off from Daddy's generosity until he puts his foot down. He may not realize it, but he would be doing her a favor by insisting that she take responsibility for her own life. He won't be around forever to bail her out, so if she learns financial responsibility now rather than when she is forced to face the bill collectors, it will be much easier on her.

Encourage Dad to close his checkbook -- for his daughter's sake as well as your own.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are senior citizens, living on a fixed income. My husband has been sick for several years, so it takes every cent to make ends meet.

Friends of ours who are young and make a good living keep asking to borrow our pickup truck. This is OK with us. However, when they return it, the gas tank is always empty. The least they could do is fill the tank. My husband tells me to be patient, but what has patience got to do with it?

I don't know how much longer I can hold my tongue. What should I do? -- DISGUSTED IN DEMING, N.M.

DEAR DISGUSTED: Don't hold your tongue -- put it to good use. The next time these friends ask to borrow your pickup, tell them only on the condition that they return it with a full tank. You might even go a bit further and suggest that an occasional wash job would be appreciated.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600